Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Catch-up: Non-botany at Home

April 23, 2019

Our first cuckoo of the year woke me up at 0450.  April 23rd is a popular date for the first cuckoo at West Suisnish.

For those living further south, a black-headed gull will be a common sight, but not here:

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Black-headed Gull at West Suisnish

This little spider is Textrix dendiculata, the toothed weaver (thanks for i.d. Gemma) and was basking on the outside of the house:

Textrix dendiculata

Textrix dendiculata (Toothed Weaver)

The moth trap has been out a few times with Hebrew Character moths being by far the most frequent but this Early Thorn was nice:

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

and Seth has kindly determined this carabid beetle from the bathroom basin as Pterostichus nigrita:

Pterostichus nigrita

Pterostichus nigrita

 

Brae, Raasay

April 14, 2019

I made a shortish visit to the Brae area of Raasay today to update some old plant records i.e. try to re-find some more of the things I recorded before 2000. This was reasonably successful given the time of year, but I also spotted a couple of insects and a fungus worth mentioning.

I have seen four specimens of the Green Parasitic Fly (Gymnocheta viridis) in the past couple of weeks, but today I spotted another tachinid that may be Botria subalpina, a fly first recorded in the British Isles, in NW Scotland, in 1994. There are still only 13 records on NBN, all in the Highlands, one of which was at my home three years ago. If right, and that will have to wait until I see Murdo at the end of the month, this will be a second 10km square on Raasay where it is known.

Tachinid

Tachinid

I also spotted a Violet Oil-Beetle (Meloe violaceus), the second in less than a week seen on Raasay as Jonathan and Sarah found one at the far north end last Tuesday. One has to be careful to distinguish this from Meloe proscarabaeus – a useful guide is here. There are about as many Raasay records as there are Skye records, so may be something to look out for across the water.

Meloe violaceus

Meloe violaceus

The fungus is worth mentioning because now is the time of year to find it:

Uromyces dactylidis

Celandine Clustercup Rust (Uromyces dactylidis)

Return to Kinloch

April 12, 2019

I decided that I needed better images of the wintergreen at Kinloch and so on my way to Edinburgh for the BSBI Scottish Recorders Conference yesterday I went back with a camera more suitable for long-range photography and did OK:

Orthilia Kinloch

Orthilia Kinloch

The serrated leaves are clearly visible and the relatively short petioles compared to the leaf blades are also apparent – another feature not shared by Pyrola spp.  An excellent guide to the wintergreens inter alia is here.

There were Peacock butterflies about, too.

Recent Insects

April 2, 2019

Last month there was a vine weevil in the house:

Vine Weevil

Otiorhynchus sulcatus

Today there was a Green-veined White butterfly in the greenhouse – I imagine it hatched there early in the warmth.

Green-veined White

Pieris napi

and today I recorded the earliest ever tachinid Gymnocheta viridis in the Highlands – but only by three days.

Kinloch Ravine and Allt nam Criopag

March 24, 2019

Fresh snow on the hills, hail beating at the window at 8 am, yesterday was obviously the perfect day for my first serious botanical expedition of the year. In fact it turned out reasonably pleasant with just a few drops of rain now and then.

The woods of “Kinloch Ravine” to the northeast of Kinloch Farm were surveyed in 1986 but the site spreads over three tetrads in two hectads and records were not kept separate. Also not far away is the Allt nam Criopag which turns out to have a very impressive and long gorge which, apart from the lower end, can only be accessed at rather few points.

Most plants recorded from the woods were re-found yesterday and assigned to 1 km squares. A few remain that would have been nice to sort out but which were unlikely this early in the year such as Carex pallescens (Pale Sedge), Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower).  However, there was a very pleasing colony of Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen), a new hectad record and only the second site in the south of Skye. It is about 5m up a vertical cliff above the river:

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Kinloch site for Orthilia

With a little zoom one can see the one-sided infructescence with straight exserted styles and on one image with the eye of faith, serrated leaf margins. The only other possibility is Pyrola media (Intermediate Wintergreen) but as well as the one-sidedness and probable serrations, the general growth form is typical of Orthilia.  (I wish I had had my other camera with me; it is better at the telephoto effect.)

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Kinloch Orthilia

On to Allt nam Criopag where seven 1968 records from John Birks demanded a search, even though it is March. A small patch of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) was located whilst Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) were in a number of sites – and elsehere in the general area.  Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch), Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) await another visit (maybe).

Holly had mines of the fly Phytomyza ilicis (Holly Leafminer) and on dead leaves the spore bodies of the fungus Trochila ilicina (Holly Speckle), the latter being apparently the less frequent locally.

This fungus growing on a long-dead detached lump of unidentifiable tree looked distinctive but so far I haven’t a clue as to its identity:

 

 

After a Bit of a Gap….

March 2, 2019

Quite a long gap really, since I last wrote on this site.  However, a review of plant recording in VC104 for July-December 2018 is on my BSBI page. With Jim McIntosh I have recently completed a country round-up for Scotland for the next BSBI News due out in April.

I have started on plans for this year’s recording and will publish some thoughts here soon. Members of Skye Botany Group can expect an e-mail some time this month.

The mild weather has brought out the insects with a white-tailed bumblebee in the garden in February and many moths being recorded on Skye. I put out the trap a couple of nights ago and had 5 Dotted Border, 1 Early Grey, 1 Common Quaker and 1 Chestnut.

 

Shieldbug and Diving Beetle

August 12, 2018

Two recent visitors to our garden: a Spiked Shieldbug (Picromerus bidens)

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Picromerus bidens

not all that common in the northwest, and a Diving Beetle (Dytiscus semisulcatus)

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Dytiscus semisulcatus

that appeared to mistake our black car for a dark peaty pool. It took off and flew around for a while but came back for another try.  This is a species I have recorded before on Raasay, but not at home.

Recent Insects and a Tar-spot Fungus

July 29, 2018

I’ve not been plant-hunting as such this last week but here are a few recent sightings:

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Dark Arches found in the house

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Map-winged Swift

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Barred Yellow

From Acer campestre (Field Maple), a planted specimen on Raasay, a flower bug:

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Anthocoris nemoralis, not the commoner A. nemorum

And from the top of Dun Caan, Raasay:

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Sròn nan Aighean and Beinn a’ Sga

July 19, 2018

This is the ridge running east-west as a spur of the Trotternish Ridge that I had intended to cover a couple of years ago but then had to return to the top of Flasvein to retrieve my camera.

Yesterday’s visit was well worthwhile with Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass), four species of saxifrage, the Nationally Scarce Euphrasia ostenfeldii (Ostenfeld’s Eyebright) and oddly, my first record of the year for Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort). June is normally the peak month for Moonwort records on Skye, but maybe the extreme dry weather has held it back. Also: Carex bigelowii (Stiff Sedge) checked as having stomata only on the underside of the leaves at a modest altitude for this plant of c.450m and Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush).

Two patches of Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb) were nice, and down below on the bank of a burn there was Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss).

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I thought I had found Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum (Mountain Crowberry) but close examination of fruits did not support this.

On the way home I went to see Morag’s find of Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw) in Portree – the first localised record and the first post-1999 record in NG44 (much commoner in the west of Skye):

Galium verum Portree

Galium verum in Portree

 

and I was shown this rather fine wasp nest in Portree:

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Wasp Nest Portree

Gob na h-Oa

July 14, 2018

Gob na h-Oa (The Tip of Oa, if that helps) is a point west of Fiskavaig partly in tetrad NG33C, which until yesterday had a mere 29 plant taxa recorded. There are now 138. It is 92% sea but the land has some nice cliffs with Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and there are good colonies of Honckenya peploides (Sea Sandwort) and Populus tremula (Aspen).

The sea caves are good:

 

and there were moths about including lots of Yellow Shells:

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Yellow Shell

I dropped down into Camas Aird an t-Sabhail to look for Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge), a rare plant on Skye and last recorded there in 1977. I am pleased to report a thriving population:

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Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge)

On the way home I stopped at Sligachan to look for Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) – success: 9 plants – and Rhynchospora fusca (Brown Beak-sedge) – total failure.

There were also more grasshoppers about than we usually see on Skye or Raasay. It seems to be a good year for them here.

Chorthippus parallelus ( Meadow grasshopper)

Chorthippus parallelus (Meadow grasshopper)

The short wings are useful in the determination. It was released after the photoshoot – no grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this blog.